Indians Notes: Encarnacion's out, Santana's in, What's Next?

What's next for the Indians?

James Rapien
December 14, 2018 - 3:59 pm
Jun 17, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Cleveland Indians first baseman Carlos Santana (41) celebrates with designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion (10) after scoring a run in the first inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse J

© Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Categories: 

Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – There will be plenty of new faces in the Indians’ clubhouse next season.

Cleveland traded Edwin Encarnacion and Yandy Diaz for Carlos Santana and Jake Bauers yesterday. Santana is a familiar face, but the deal represents the theme of the offseason – change.

The Indians are changing their roster. The front office would probably use the term ‘evolving.’ There’s one thing you, me and anyone else that follows Cleveland baseball can be certain of – more moves will be made.

The Indians don’t have to trade Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t going to. If they’re going to deal either guy, they better get a haul in return. Their recent moves clear the way to do just that. They traded away Yan Gomes’ $7 million salary. They dealt Encarnacion to free up extra money for the 2019 season. Both moves give them the flexibility of sticking with Jason Kipnis for the upcoming year, instead of dumping his $14.5 million salary in a trade that includes Kluber or Bauer.

Not only do they have flexibility, they also added two versatile players. Santana can play multiple positions. Bauers can be a corner outfielder or play first base. The Indians have options, which is a great spot to be in.

Who is most likely to be traded?

It has to be Yonder Alonso and his $8 million salary. The Indians would prefer to play Bauers at first base, which is his natural position. He played 20 games in the outfield last season. He’s a young prospect with plenty of potential – don’t you want him at the spot he’s most comfortable playing?

Alonso hit .250 last season with 23 home runs and 83 RBI. The 31-year-old has value. Is it enough to get an outfielder who can start for Cleveland in 2019? Could he bring back a relief pitcher that will give the bullpen a boost? They could trade him for prospects and use the $8 million to address a weakness in free agency. The Indians have options, but it’s hard to imagine Alonso on the team in April.

Will Kluber or Bauer get traded?

This is a question we’ll be asking until it happens or until the start of spring training. The Indians’ asking price is sky-high for either player and it should be. Their strength is something most organizations would dream of. People forget about how hard it is to find high-end starting pitching until they don’t have it.

There’s so much chatter about trading one of the two, which makes it hard to envision a scenario where it doesn’t happen. They don’t have to deal either player, but I’d be willing to bet that a desperate team is going to come calling and knock their socks off with an offer. If that doesn’t happen, then they should trade Alonso, sign a free agent or two and call it a day.

Having too many high-end starting pitchers is like having too many star quarterbacks. I get it, the Indians have weaknesses, but great signal callers mask a below average offensive line. Of course they need help in the outfield and a boost in the bullpen, but that doesn’t mean you take less in a trade for one of your aces. The Indians seem to be on the same page, considering both players are still here.

Paul Hoynes of The Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote something interesting today.

“If the Indians could move Alonso or Jason Kipnis, it may lessen the need to trade Kluber or Bauer,” Hoynes wrote. “That way they could keep their prized rotation intact for at least one more year. As long as Kluber and Bauer can co-exist, that is.”

Why wouldn’t they be able to co-exist? They don’t have to work directly with one another. Yes, they have different personalities, but we see athlete’s mesh and work together, despite having unique upbringings, tendencies and perspectives throughout sports. The idea of Kluber and Bauer co-existing shouldn’t impact the plans of the front office. It’s hard to imagine that happening, but it’s worth noting. 

Other Notes:

Jose Ramirez has the best backyard on the planet. He tweeted out a picture of his new infield. Can you imagine the Wiffle ball games that could be played on that field? Check it out:

I’m shocked at how many fans didn’t like Thursday’s trade. The Indians are getting two years of Santana for $4 more than they would’ve paid Encarnacion for the 2019 season. It’s also safe to say Bauers has more upside and star potential than Diaz. I get that you want to see more, but can we let the offseason play out before we overreact to a move that made sense?